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Johnson Estate Winery

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Frederick Johnson
 
September 14, 2021 | Frederick Johnson

Celebrating 60 Years -

Johnson ESTATE:  Celebrating the Founder’s 100th Birthday

NYS’ oldest estate winery has multiple anniversaries to celebrate this year!
Until Sept 26th:  Founders' Red & Brut - 20% Anniversary Discount!  Use Code - 60YEARS

Westfield, (NY) – If you had been in the winery on September 5th, you might have been greeted with a glass of Johnson Estate’s Brut sparkling wine so that you could join in a toast to the winery founder, Frederick S. Johnson Sr., who would have been 100 years old.  And that’s not the only anniversary being celebrated by Johnson Estate, NY’s oldest estate winery.  This year is also the 60th anniversary of the winery’s establishment, as Fred Sr. began the winery on his father’s fruit farm in 1961.  Both the winery building and the old barn are now 100 years old and the farmhouse, where third-generation Fred Johnson Jr. lives with his wife, Jennifer, is 200 years old. 

Fred Sr. would be proud to see the vineyards loaded with fruit, ready for harvest.  And he'd be proud to see over forty award-winning wines filling the shelves of the century-old Tasting Room, formerly his father’s apple cold storage facility.  And on those shelves he would see our award-winning Founders' Red, named for Fred Sr. and his father. Founders’ is made from Fred Sr.’s favorite Chancellor grapes (plus a little Pinot Noir), planted on the site of his father’s favorite cherry orchard. And estate-grown, hand-picked and lightly-pressed Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are used to make the new dry Brut, the perfect celebratory wine with elegant effervescent bread notes.  To celebrate these Labor Day Anniversaries, we're offering a 20% discount on both Founders' Red and our new Brut sparkling wine from September 5-26th.   The discount is available in the winery or online (use the promotion code 60YEARS).

This year’s anniversaries make it a fitting year to open FLIGHT, the name of the winery’s new outdoor wine and food pairing location.  It has beautiful vineyard vistas and permits guests to enjoy the sights and smells of harvest while savoring flights of wine, wines by the glass, and curated cheese and charcuterie boards which include locally-sourced seasonal fruits, nuts, crisps and more.   FLIGHT will be open well into October, weather permitting and reservations are not required.  And yes, the name FLIGHT was inspired by Fred Sr.’s service as a Navy pilot during World War II and Fred Jr.'s love of flying. 

The 2021 harvest has begun and the winery’s Great Grape Walks have started - they are the perfect way to experience the estate’s vineyards, most first planted by Fred Sr. sixty years ago.  These are self-guided walks during which guests sample and fill their baskets with premium estate-grown grapes, including Fred Sr,’s favorite, Chancellor. Afterwards, guests enjoy a flight of three wines and a "petite" cheese board at FLIGHT.  Families with children and dogs with leashes are welcome.  Visit our Event Calendar to learn more and to make reservations. 

Johnson Estate Winery, with 110 acres of vineyards, is the oldest estate winery in NYS and a founding member of Lake Erie Wine Trail. For more information please visit www.JohnsonWinery.com, or www.facebook.com/johnsonwinery, or call 716-326-2191.

Click here if you would like to share this Press Release.

Time Posted: Sep 14, 2021 at 8:33 AM Permalink to Celebrating 60 Years - Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
March 23, 2021 | Frederick Johnson

Preparing for a New Chardonnay Vineyard - What Takes Five Years?


Taking advantage of early spring dry weather to prepare for 12,500 new Chardonnay vines. 
The seagulls from Lake Erie are looking for grubs and helping to fertilize!

What Takes Five Years? 
To change a field from one variety of grapes to a new variety. Here are the steps:

  • After harvest, we remove the old vines, and trellis system including the posts.
  • The following spring, we plant Sudan grass which is a kind of Sorghum that grows in very thick stands eight feet tall.
  • That fall, we mow and mulch the Sudan grass and then spread a generous weight of pomace (grape pressings from the winery).  We do this to rebuild the soil’s structure and to boost its organic matter.
  • The following spring, we disc the pomace and shredded Sudan grass into the soil, smooth the field, and plant Sudan grass again.
  • In the second fall, we shred the grass and add more pomace.
  • Finally, in the spring of year three, we disc in the prior year’s shredded grass and pomace, smooth the field, remove large rocks, to prepare to plant the new vineyard.
  • Before we plant, we will install perforated drainage pipe under every third row to help keep the vines’ roots from drowning during wet spring weather. This is disruptive enough that we will smooth those rows again.
  • Then the rows are laid out on 8.5 foot centers, vines planted, trellis posts installed, lowest wires strung, drip irrigation tubing hung and connected, and cover crop planted between the rows.  Then we hope for sunny weather!

Before we can harvest our first berry of Chardonnay from this new vineyard, another three years will pass during which we add more trellis wires, trim, train and tie the growing vines, and pinch all the new fruit blossoms off in the first two years so that the vines can put all their energies into growing roots and canes.  This is, of course, in addition to the regular seasonal jobs of pruning and controlling weeds, insects, and fungal diseases.

So for this new field of Chardonnay, we expect our first partial crop in the fall of 2023, after picking our last crop of Delaware in 2018.

Time Posted: Mar 23, 2021 at 12:53 PM Permalink to Preparing for a New Chardonnay Vineyard - What Takes Five Years? Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
January 24, 2021 | Frederick Johnson

From Fred: Reflections on a Winter's Morn

Mid-Winter Pillar of Fire Sunrise

This Sunday morning, January 24, was dawning grey and still, with about a foot of snow on the ground when I walked to the bay window with my first cup of tea in hand and was greeted by one of the most unusual sunrises I’ve ever seen. It lasted less than two minutes, and I think that it was caused by the sunrise being focused through a hole in the clouds just behind the ridge of hills that make up the Allegheny escarpment two miles south of Lake Erie. This is the so called “Chautauqua Ridge” which is notorious on the evening weather shows for its Lake Effect snow accumulations.

Fifty year ago today, it was likely also a grey day in Massachusetts where I was an 18 year-old headed off to the required Sunday Chapel with about 800 other boys.  Dark suits, white shirts, and neat ties required, and as a dorm proctor I would have been responsible for making sure that my various tenth-grade charges made it to church on time and then, as a student deacon, for helping to pass the collection plates during the offertory. Hopefully, the sermon and the service lifted our sights above our teenage worries.

Always an early-rising farm boy,  I’ve seen a lot of sunrises since; on at least five continents and three oceans, and it's a joy to see this, one of the most uplifting sunrises right out the back bay window of what was, originally, my grandfather’s house to which we have returned in our “retirement”.

Over the years, I have experienced far beyond my just allotment of good fortunes and adventures, yet I am thankful this morning that in returning to one of the places of my beginning, that in this Sunday sunrise over vineyards, I should be granted such an inspiring glimpse of a more fundamental perspective.

Fred Johnson

Time Posted: Jan 24, 2021 at 11:57 AM Permalink to From Fred:  Reflections on a Winter's Morn Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
December 8, 2020 | Frederick Johnson

"Christmas in a Bottle"

    
MULLED OR SPICED WINES:  Red Ipocras and White Ipocras
The Germans call it "Gluhwein" - literally, wine that makes you glow - and it is a staple of their Christmas markets to this day.  The Swedes call it Glogg and the Italians borrow some French to call it "Vin Brule’".  Ipocras is sweet and generously flavored with several of the spices popular in old England. These include ginger, cinnamon, and clove, and they leave a wonderfully warm and lingering aftertaste.  In fact, the recipe we use is an adaptation of an Elizabethan formula.

A BRIEF HISTORY
Warm, spiced wines have a long tradition going back to the early Greeks who believed that the combination of warmth, alcohol, and spices had excellent medicinal properties to combat the infirmities of the cold winter season.  They called the mixture “hippocras” after Hippocrates, the father of medicine.  The medieval French called it Ypocras, which the English often changed to Ipocras.  Chaucer mentions it in his first work: The Book of Duchess in 1370, a dirge he dedicated to Blanche, the Duchess of Somerset who died of the plague at age 26. 

In 16th century England, both white and red Ipocras, had become a drink of the highest nobility. At a time when both sugar and spices were rare and precious, Ipocras was reserved for the use of royalty at the most precious ceremonial occasions. Indeed, Ipocras was the libation presented by the Lord Mayor of London to Queen Elizabeth I at her coronation.

Johnson Estate's founder, Fred Johnson, was inspired to produce Ipocras to celebrate the commissioning of the Sea Lion, an authentic replica of a 16th century merchant ship which was built nearby on Chatauqua Lake.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Serve it warm in a mug or cut it 50/50 with hot apple cider and serve it in a beer stein with a stick of cinnamon. Some traditions fortify it with apple or grape brandy for extra warmth, but that sometimes can be too much of a good thing. And here are some food pairing suggestions including Triple Ginger Cookies!

TRY IT NOW
By way of introduction, we are offering you a 20% discount on our Red Ipocras or White Ipocras
this month to encourage you to try it! Here's a "one-click to try them both!

Time Posted: Dec 8, 2020 at 2:13 PM Permalink to Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
November 11, 2020 | Frederick Johnson

All About Torpedo Red for Veteran's Day

ABOUT TORPEDO RED
This label was designed by the Johnson’s son, Spencer, a US Navy active duty EOD officer, in honor of his grandfather, the winery’s founder, Frederick Spencer Johnson.

The dragon carrying a torpedo was the insignia of the WWII Navy Squadron Torpedo Three which flew off the Yorktown from 1943-1945.

The silhouette of the airplane is that of a TBM Avenger, designed by Grumman Aircraft and built by General Motors. to carry a 2,000 pound aerial torpedo. On November 11, 1944*, then Lt. (junior grade) Frederick S. Johnson, age 23, single-handedly torpedoed and sank a Japanese destroyer for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by Admiral John S. McCain (the recent Senator’s grandfather).

The wine is a blend of Chancellor and Pinot Noir both grown here on the farm. It is a smooth but almost-dry, full-bodied wine that is ready to drink now but should also continue improving with age for at least another five years. 

This is a limited, special edition label we are now offering every November in honor of all veterans and active duty military.

* Coincidentally, November 11th is Armistice Day, now called Veterans’ Day.

Time Posted: Nov 11, 2020 at 6:16 AM Permalink to All About Torpedo Red for Veteran's Day Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
July 15, 2020 | Frederick Johnson

We Shall Persevere - A Look at 100 Years Ago

PERSPECTIVE:  100 years ago - in 1920 - at the Johnson Farm (aka Sunnyslope)
Circa 1954, Owner Fred Johnson Jr. with grandfather, Frederick William Johnson.     

  • My grandfather, Frederick William Johnson, is building an apple cold storage shed.  He frames it out with big timbers repurposed from a dairy barn that in turn was built about 1820 by William Peacock.  The cold storage shed is now our winery and the those original 1820 timbers still hold the roof up.
  • His wife of 3 years, Nan Scouller, has presented him with a baby daughter, Antoinette, who in 1920 is about to turn two.  My father will be born in September of 1921.  The brick house next door that he has been fixing up since 1911 is now fully ready for his young family.
  • The fourth wave of the “Spanish Flu” epidemic has just ended.  It killed 675,000 Americans and perhaps 50 million people world-wide. There is no vaccine.
  • The country is in a severe post-war, post-pandemic recession.  There are race riots in Chicago and anarchist bombings on Wall Street. 
  • President Wilson is pretending to govern the country from his sickbed. FDR, running as Vice President, will get trounced in November 1920 election: 404 electoral college votes to 127.
  • Prohibition becomes the law of the land, and grandfather reputedly makes his first batch of wine that fall.
  • The Dust Bowl (Like Erie is over five feet below its current high levels), the Depression, World War II and the atom bomb will all follow, but Grandfather’s little farm enterprise prospers in good times and survives in bad.

So here we are, one hundred years later, struggling to navigate the latest pandemic, looking forward to a great harvest, but uncertain about political, economic, and environmental futures.  But we have been here before.  We will persevere, as will you.  As farmers, we know that there will always be challenges ahead, both man-made and God-given.  But we are always optimists; determined optimists, dedicated to always leaving this place and our customers and community a little better and a little happier than they were before.

Time Posted: Jul 15, 2020 at 2:16 PM Permalink to We Shall Persevere - A Look at 100 Years Ago Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
June 23, 2020 | Frederick Johnson

Outdoor Tastings in Farmhouse Gardens

     
OUTDOOR TASTINGS IN FARMHOUSE GARDENS (weather permitting)
  • Saturdays and Sundays, 11am to 5pm (July - September)
  • Sixteen wines offered on Outdoor Tasting Menu
  • First come, first serve; guests may need to wait in garden
  • No groups greater than six people, please
  • Limited seating available - purchase picnic fare and/or enjoy a glass of wine in the gardens
  • And come and see our Daisy Lane - great for photos!                                                
    REMINDERS:  WINERY IS OPEN DAILY, 10am - 6pm
  • Tasting Room - Has reduced capacity; tastings are first come, first served
  • (no reservations needed at this point, but we will let you know)
  • Groups limited to four to six
  • Wine by the bottle and picnic fare for outside consumption
  • Curbside Pick-up/Delivery available daily
Time Posted: Jun 23, 2020 at 6:51 PM Permalink to Outdoor Tastings in Farmhouse Gardens Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
March 21, 2020 | Frederick Johnson

FREE Shipping Fights Corona Virus + No Contact Curbside Pick-Ups

PLEASE NOTE, 3/12/2020: 
Johnson Estate is providing "No Contact Curbside Pick-Up", please call 10am-6pm to pre-order/pay with credit card and arrange delivery of wines to your car - we are happy to do this.  We will ask to see your driver's license through your car window. 

The winery is open from 10am-6pm daily and while we have suspended tastings and tours, you may shop for your wines for Take-Out bottle purchases.
        

 
The text from our recent email to our online customers:
Spring and summer are coming and discerning wine consumers like you often plan to visit wineries like ours......but then comes this Corona Virus.  So, in the spirit of the moment, and to try to help "flatten the curve", we would like to offer you the following options for 750/375mL bottles (except where noted).

GOOD NEIGHBORS PROGRAM:
Free Shipping to Ohio, NY and PA for minimum purchases of 6 bottles or more.  Also applies to six bottles of Proprietor's Red and House Red (1.5mL).
Promotion Code: GOODNEIGHBOR

FREE SHIPPING, EAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI
To customers in states east of the Mississippi with minimum purchase of 12 bottles. 
Promotion Code:  EOMFREE

50% OFF SHIPPING, WEST OF THE MISSISSIPPI
To customers in states west of the Mississippi with minimum purchase of 12 bottles.
Promotion Code:  50SHIPWEST

ONLINE OR CALL:
Please visit our website anytime or give us a call (1-800-Drink-NY or 1-800-374-6569) between 10AM and 5:30PM Eastern Time, 7 days a week.  Our tasting room team will be happy to speak with you. You are welcome to share this offer with your friends and family.

We look forward to seeing you at the winery - hopefully it can be sooner rather than later.
Sincerely,
Frederick & Jennifer Johnson

AND NOW, THE FINE PRINT:

  • Bottles must be 750ml or 375 ml.
  • You may order more than the six or twelve-bottle minimum quantity - but please do order in increments of 3 bottles to reduce wasting packing materials.
  • We are licensed to sell in nearly thirty states - please check the state list here.
  • Deliveries of wine require a signature of someone over 21 years of age.
  • We can ship to your home or work address; your choice.
  • Transit times vary from two days to seven days.  For shipment to the West Coast and Florida, we generally ship wines on Monday to attempt to avoid weekend delays.  

PICK-UP OPTIONS AT THE WINERY:
In the spirit of social distancing, we are happy to accept online or phone "pre-orders" for those who live nearby.  Just let us know that you'd prefer for us to bring the wines to your car.   

Time Posted: Mar 21, 2020 at 12:20 PM Permalink to FREE Shipping Fights Corona Virus + No Contact Curbside Pick-Ups Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
August 26, 2019 | Frederick Johnson

Veraison

What is Veraison?
Taken from the French, veraison is the change of color of grapes.  It is a signal that the plant and its berries are putting their energies into ripening the berries instead of berry 

The unripe grapes, all a bright green color, begin to turn either pale yellow or dark blue/purple in the case of “red” wine grapes.  This is a photograph of Johnson Estate's Pinot Noir grapes which have started but not completed veraison.  At this stage, the vines have begun to transport energy stores to the grapes and they increase in size as sugar levels increase.

Birds Looking for Early Ripening Grapes
In western New York and Pennsylvania, where 30,000 acres of vineyards are found along Lake Erie, the end of September is known for the aroma of ripening grapes and the commencement of the region's harvest of Concords.  When this begins to happen, it is a signal that the grapes are becoming sweeter.  The majority of the region's vineyards are Concord grapes which tend to ripen later than some wine varieties.  As a result, the early-ripening wine varieties, like Johnson Estate's Maréchal Foch and Pinot Noir need to be protected from birds whose choices are fewer at the beginning of the season.

At Johnson Estate, these two early-ripening grape varieties are protected from hungry birds through the use of ballons, kevlar streamers, and periodic cannon shots.  In addition, there is a recording of a hawk attacking a starling and all of these efforts help to diminish the birds' interest in these first-ripening grapes.

More Information may be found here:
https://winefolly.com/review/veraison-when-grapes-turn-red/https://articles.extension.org/pages/31098/parts-of-the-grape-vine:-shoots

Fred Johnson, Owner

Time Posted: Aug 26, 2019 at 7:26 PM Permalink to Veraison Permalink
Frederick Johnson
 
May 13, 2018 | Frederick Johnson

What's Bud Break?

Bang!  Starting Gun. 
"Bud Break" announces the start of a new growing season in the vineyards - a new vintage begins.

Will there be enough heat-light units to finish the race at harvest with gold medal quality grapes for the year's wine?  Or will we come up short, with grapes insufficiently ripe to make the best wines? 

In 2017, "bud break" - officially when half of the buds on the grape vine are showing at least the edge of half of a leaf - was about two weeks early.  This year, we're about five days late than the May 4th average.  Last year was ideal for producing excellent vintages; not too cool, not too wet; long mild fall; just right.  Five days later than the average bud break in 2018 is no great handicap, but the vineyards will need a little extras heat during the summer (but not over 90° please)
and extra sunny days to arrive at harvest in "medal form" this year.

Time Posted: May 13, 2018 at 7:11 PM Permalink to What's Bud Break? Permalink

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